FILE UNDER -- Alpine

Kitzbuehel: AJ Kitt remembers the dark days for the U.S. speed team

Kitzbuehel: AJ Kitt remembers the dark days for the U.S. speed team{mosimage}AJ Kitt remembers the dark days of Kitzbuehel, when U.S. Ski Team racers came into town as underdogs and left with their tails between their legs. ‘It was brutal. It was torture’ he said. ‘We were lucky to get in the top 40. We hated it, we knew we were better than that.’

Now the American downhillers arrive in their personal trailers and get mobbed wherever they go in Kitzbuehel. But in the dark days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the American skiers were fighting for respect.

‘We felt like we were blazing a new trail, all the time’ said Kitt. ‘Fighting for hill space, hotel assignments, you name it … we had no respect from anybody.’

Kitt finished 15th in his first downhill race at Kitzbuehel in 1991. It was the eve of the first Gulf War. As he remembers it, he and his teammates had some friends on the tour, but they were few and far between. ‘People snickered when we walked by’ said Kitt. ‘We fought through it.’

The next year he came there and was second in the downhill, finishing 35-hundredths behind the Swiss winner, Franz Heinzer.

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